How To Spend A Weekend In: Glasgow

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Glasgow will always hold a little special spot in my heart; it was our home for just over three years, our university town and where we really did most of our growing up.

We also lived there in a time of huge change for Glasgow; I feel like it’s always had a bit of a rough reputation, the shabby sister of Edinburgh, but in the last few years that’s all changed, and Glasgow has a whole new reputation to be proud of. It’s a music hub with a thriving foodie scene, beautiful architecture and plenty of hidden pockets to explore.

So if you’re planning a weekend in Glasgow sometime soon, here are my top tips for places to go, things to do and where to eat!

friday night

Glasgow airport is out to the south-west of the city, but it’s quick and easy to reach the city centre – taxis are around £15-£20 (pro tip: don’t use one of the black taxis in the rank outside the airport, call a minicab instead!) or you can hop on the Airport Express bus which is around £7. Personally, I’d advise an AirBnb in the leafy west end of town, preferably around the Finnieston or Kelvingrove area, so you can easily check out the city centre as well as the west end.

Dump your bags and head straight to one of Glasgow’s best-loved institutions: Mother India. This is easily my favourite place to get fantastic Indian food, anywhere in the UK – it’s fresh and authentic and incredibly tasty, plus the service is always fantastic.

Post-curry, head around the corner to The Ben Nevis: a cosy, cool little pub with an eye-watering whisky selection, plenty of craft beers and knowledgeable bar staff to advise. It’s the ideal introduction to this vibrant city and a lovely way to ease yourself into the weekend!

saturday morning

Rise and shine! The perfect way to spend a Saturday morning in Glasgow is to explore the trendy West End. If you’re near a subway station, you can jump on for £1.30 each, and ride the sub to Hillhead to land right in the thick of things. Start your day with breakfast at Kember & Jones; this chic little brunch spot offers nutritious breakfasts that are fabulously Instagrammable. I highly recommend the waffles!

And the delicious breakfast in question – waffles, muesli and macarons from Kember & Jones.

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After breakfast, wander up Byres Road and take in all the cute little boutiques and shops on the way. Make sure you take the turning at the tiny Dowanside lane, to uncover a treasure trove of great vintage and antiques stores, hidden away behind the main street. De Courcy’s arcade, Starry Starry Night and Relics are all great for hunting down unusual finds.

Keep going up the street towards the beautiful Botanic Gardens, and work up an appetite for lunch. The Gardens are filled with stunning flowers, and the Kibble Palace glasshouse is well worth exploring too.

saturday lunchtime

You can’t go wrong with lunch at Stravaigin! Another one of those Glasgow institutions, this stylish restaurant/bar is casual enough to pop in for a bite, but sparkly enough to feel like you’ve landed somewhere special. They have a great sharing menu that’s perfect for lunch, so order a few dishes and get stuck in!

saturday afternoon

Once you leave Stravaigin, you’re basically right at the entry point to Kelvingrove Park. Spend your afternoon wandering through this stunning city park; the landscape is breathtaking, and you can go and see the beautiful Glasgow University building too, which is the stuff of my Hogwarts dreams.

I love living here!

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Don’t leave the park without heading to the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery; the perfect way to while away the hours and see some fantastic installations. It’s a beautiful building and full of interesting, varied exhibitions that are sure to spark your interest.

If all of that art and intellect hasn’t worked up your appetite again, you’re doing it wrong. By now you’ll have earned yourself a slice of cake, so get out the Google Maps and uncover the Hidden Lane tearoom; this tiny (and definitely very hidden!) tearoom serves delicious homemade cakes and treats that you can’t miss out on.

saturday evening

aint we pretty? thanks @clarasstudenteats!

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The West End is my favourite place to spend a Saturday night! Get all dressed up and head to the Hillhead Bookclub for pre-dinner cocktails; this quirky bar is a great place to start your evening in style. Make sure you book a table though, this place can get very busy.

Another spot you must try (and must book!) is The Ubiquitous Chip on Ashton Lane. The West End’s loveliest restaurant by a mile; it’s got a beautiful interior, delicious food and a fabulous atmosphere too. A must-do for dinner!

After dinner, head up to the Grosvenor on Ashton Lane – this glamorous warehouse-style bar is upstairs and not immediately obvious, but well worth a visit. Order an Emily Emily and get on your dancing shoes!

If your evening really does go off with a bang, it’s super quick and cheap to get a taxi back into town to hit up one of Glasgow’s myriad clubs. I particularly love The Buff Club on Bath Lane, which plays the best retro hip-hop, soul and R&B – the perfect spot for a dance! Or if you’re more into your live music, King Tut’s Wah-Wah Hut is world famous and a great place to spot your new favourite band in the making – be sure to check out tickets in advance as it’s a small space and is guaranteed to be busy, whoever’s on stage.

sunday morning

If you’re feeling a little delicate from Saturday night’s antics, there’s only one place you need to go to replenish stock and get your head in the right place for another day of exploring: Tribeca in Partick.

Be warned; this place is extremely popular and you can’t book on weekends, so you’ll need to queue – but it is well worth it. Stacks of pancakes taller than most small children are the only food you’ll need to set up for the day ahead.

After your food, it’s time to head into town to explore the city centre: jump on the subway at Kelvinhall and ride it to Buchanan Street to land right in the middle of things. Glasgow is renowned for its shopping (it’s referred to as ‘The Style Mile’, but you’ll never hear an actual Glaswegian call it that), so you can spend the morning exploring the flagship stores on Buchanan Street and stocking up on treats.

If you’re suffering, make sure you head to either Riverhill or Gordon Street Coffee for a quick pick-me-up – you won’t regret it.

sunday lunchtime

I think a light lunch is always best when you’re hitting the shops, and after a night of indulgence, something healthy might well be your best option. I always recommend Martha’s on St Vincent Street, for a healthy, tasty lunch – I particularly love their chipotle chicken with brown rice. It’s incredibly spicy but so delicious, and means you can have a slice of cake later on without feeling too naughty!

sunday afternoon

Take yourself off to explore the East End of the city; walk through the Merchant City and up along High Street to arrive at Glasgow Cathedral and the famous Necropolis. The Cathedral is unbelievably beautiful and so worth a visit, and while it may seem an odd place to visit, the Necropolis is such an interesting way to spend the afternoon. It’s quite a hike up the hill, but it’s so quiet and peaceful, and the views out across the city are really magnificent.

#glasgow #cathedral #scotland #northofthewall

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When you’ve made the trip up and you’re back down on steady ground, you’re worth making the twenty-minute walk down to WEST – this brewery and pub, housed in the iconic Templeton Building, is a gorgeous spot for afternoon drinks and a quick snack if you’re so inclined. I have it on good authority that the St Mungo beer is a must-order!

sunday evening

Your time in Glasgow is almost up, but there’s still time to enjoy one last meal in this bright,, buzzy metropolis. Get yourself over to Pizza Punks to indulge in fresh, delicious artisan pizza that will keep you feeling happy and satisfied long after your plane lands. Plus, you can jump on the bus back to the airport right outside – it’s a win-win.

And there is your itinerary for a dreamy weekend in Glasgow! I’d love to know if you use any of these tips or check out any of the places I’ve recommended – be sure to let me know on Instagram if you do…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Spend A Weekend In: Edinburgh

For years and years before I’d moved to Edinburgh, it was always a city I’d longed to visit, and I was always excited for our daytrips here. Now, after six months here, I can by no means say I’m an expert, but I’ve done more than my fair share of exploring so that when friends and family visit, we can show them a great time in our new home town. Here’s a little guide for spending a weekend in Edinburgh, in case you’re itching to book a trip sometime soon…

Friday night

Edinburgh is seriously easy to get to from most major cities in the UK, by train or plane. If you take the train, you’ll arrive right in the centre of town, so you can hop off the platform and start your weekend immediately. If you fly, you can jump onto the tram right outside the airport and head direct for the centre, which takes around half an hour.

Choose your tipple #edinburghpubs #Edinburgh #vodka #Gin #whisky #Rum #craft

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Dump your bags and head to The Holyrood 9A for dinner and drinks to remember; it’s a seriously cool spot just off the Royal Mile that will delight foodies and alcohol aficionados alike. There’s dozens of craft beers to choose from, a wide list of delicious cocktails and a broad food menu that covers nibbles, burgers, salads and some seriously indulgent desserts.

Saturday morning

On Sundays we #brunch #smokestack #edinburgh #brunchquest

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Spring out of bed and head to bustling Broughton Street for a delicious, leisurely brunch at Smoke Stack. Their waffles are famous all over the city; savoury lovers will adore the Huevos Rancheros option, but if you’re sweet-toothed like me, the Sweet Berry waffles, piled high with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries, will hit the spot for sure.

Post-breakfast, nip next door to Artisan Roast to pick up a hot drink to go (I daydream about their rose hot chocolate), and then take a wander along the street – stopping off at luxurious chocolate boutique Coco Chocolatier if you’re so inclined – and down to Life Story on London Street. This Scandi boutique stocks everything your minimalist heart could desire – from beautiful stationery to prints, homewares and rare magazines. It’s peaceful and oh-so pretty; just make sure you’ve left enough space in your hand luggage to take home a goodie or two from here.

This is the morning to explore the New Town – the side of Edinburgh that really came to prominence in the 1800s. Take in the exquisite Georgian architecture, and shop to your heart’s content in the gorgeous boutiques and high-end stores on George Street.

Saturday lunchtime

If your tummy is rumbling after all that shopping, stick to the New Town and head to Thistle Street, for a taste of Mexico in the heart of Edinburgh. El Cartel has been getting rave reviews since it opened, and is a great spot for a light lunch and a tasty cocktail. Be warned, you may have to queue for a table, since the restaurant is the size of most people’s living rooms, but it’s a cosy spot that looks great on Instagram too. Order one of the frozen daiquiris, some guacamole to share and the cod tacos for sure.

Saturday afternoon

Work off those cocktails with a stroll up to the National Museum of Scotland, over in the Old Town. On the way, you’ll see the stunning architecture of the castle and stroll the cobbled streets of the world-famous Royal Mile – just try to dodge the coachloads of tourists and those gawping at street performers if you can.

The National has just been named as the city’s most popular attraction, and it’s easy to see why. It’s packed with interesting exhibits from nature and science to fashion, culture and Scottish history, and it’s also one of the most picturesque museums you’re likely to visit – be sure to take a snap from one of the balconies of the impressive, sunlit gallery. It’s worth the wait for the single lift on the fifth floor to take you up to the rooftop, where you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous view over the city and a prime opportunity to inundate your Instagram followers with what they’re missing out on.

Doughnut date 😍🍩😍🍩

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After your exploration, take the stroll back the way you came, but take a detour to the new Waverley Arches development, behind the train station. Here, a number of boutiques and small businesses have set up shop – so you can pick up some beautiful homewares or gifts in Elk & Wolf, a cold-pressed juice in Juice Warrior, or, if you’re feeling particularly naughty, a decadent doughnut and a hot coffee in Baba Budan (seriously, how good do they look?!).

Saturday evening

If you don’t mind the wait, Dishoom is the perfect spot for a twist on the traditional Saturday-night curry. Newly-opened on St Andrew’s Square, this three-floor restaurant offers a tapas-style Indian dining experience that’s perfect for couples who don’t mind sharing. Staff are incredibly friendly and the food is first-rate and well-priced. Don’t miss out on the Chicken Ruby, the grilled Chicken Tikka and the luxurious Garlic Naan – and if you like a little fizz with your dinner, the Bollybellini is sublime.

For something a little more intimate, you might like Cafe St Honore; a Parisian-style bistro tucked away in one of Thistle Street’s side lanes. Indulge in authentic French fare in a snug and very romantic atmosphere.

When your tummies are full, head down to Queen Street and ensconce yourself in a cosy corner at Bramble, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar which has frequently been voted among the best in the world. The bar has a very extensive menu, so to save time – be sure to try the Butter-Scotch and The Bright Side – both are beautiful. This is a very easy bar to while away your Saturday night in, away from the chill!

Sunday morning

It’s time to shake off that headache! Clear your head with a bracing walk up one of Edinburgh’s stunning hills – but be sure to bring some goodies with you. I love Soderberg on Broughton Street, where you can fill your bag with Swedish-style breakfast pastries and tasty treats ready to take on your walk. If you’re really looking to reach the top in style, take a mini bottle of champagne too!

For inexperienced hillwalkers, Calton Hill is the obvious choice. Just at the end of Princes Street is one of the city’s most famous viewpoints – this is the spot where almost all of those beautiful images of Edinburgh are taken. Dash up the steps and take in a glorious view of the city with your breakfast picnic to share.

If you’re slightly hardier than the average townie (I am not one of these people), then Arthur’s Seat is the Sunday morning walk for you. Most Edinburgh citizens will tell you this is no big deal and that it’s an easy walk – but as a Londoner whose highest hilltop experience was Primrose Hill, I am here to tell you to ignore them. Bring proper shoes and prepare for a hike. It doesn’t take too long to do and weather-permitting, it isn’t particularly treacherous – but the views from the top are worth any exertion getting there, I promise.

Sunday afternoon

If you can face any more walking after your hill-hike experience, it’s worth taking a slow stroll through town and up to the ancient Dean Village, which is absolutely beautiful. Wander along the Water of Leith and into Stockbridge, where you can enjoy the Farmer’s Market. Fill up on any number of delicious snacks and treats – from fresh pizza to lobster rolls, pies, coffee and patisseries, plus a huge number of local artisans selling their wares too.

Post-market, take a taxi back over to the Old Town, where you can really get exploring. This area of Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to its 16th-century architecture, and there is so much to look at and find. From the twisty, hidden little lanes branching off of the Mile, to the incredible, awe-inspiring St Giles Cathedral. Literature lovers should take the tour of important spots for Edinburgh’s authors in the Old Town, while Harry Potter fans might like to go on the hunt for important spots that inspired the series – from the cafe where it was written, to the school that inspired Hogwarts and the graveyard where the original Tom Riddle is buried…

After your explorations, rest your feet and relax at one of the city’s most beloved cake spots: Lovecrumbs. Just up from the Grassmarket, this cosy coffee shop offers some of the most delicious cakes I’ve eaten anywhere. Expect unusual flavour combinations and exotic ingredients, along with fresh local coffee, for a gorgeous way to unwind after an activity-packed morning and afternoon.

Sunday evening

Before you head off to catch your train or flight home, there’s always time for pizza. Civerino’s on the Royal Mile is often noted as the city’s best pizza place, and it’s easy to see why. Fresh dough and fresh ingredients, served by fabulously friendly staff. It’s the ideal way to finish off your trip and stave off hunger for the journey home.

So there you have it – the ideal way to spend a weekend in Edinburgh! The best bit is, even after you’ve spent your weekend here, you still won’t have seen even half of the city in total, let alone all of the stunning places surrounding it – so you’ll always have an excuse to make a return visit in the not-too-distant future…

Travel Guide: Barcelona

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It feels like everyone went to Barcelona this summer! Every time I logged into Instagram, snaps of tapas and Gaudi architecture loomed back at me – not that I’m complaining of course. It all served as great inspiration for our own trip at the end of August, when we jetted off for a week to escape the frenzy of relocating our entire lives back home. It was a fantastic week, and a much-needed one. So here’s my favourite places that we found in our short time in Barca – I hope you enjoy them if you’re planning a visit!

We stayed in the very cool district of El Born, which is very much like the Shoreditch of Barcelona. It’s not much to look at in the daytime when all the shops are closed, but in the evening it comes alive with bars, cafes, shops, galleries and so much going on. Plus it’s easy to walk to so many places from Born, so I’d definitely recommend it as a great place to stay. We stayed in this AirBnb studio, which was a great location and served the two of us perfectly.

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Tapas

Of course, it’s not a trip to Spain without tapas! Born has some amazing tapas bars and we tried pretty much all of them! Our favourite was Bormuth, which we headed to on our first afternoon and went back to at least twice more. It’s absolutely tiny so best to visit between lunch and dinner time if you want a seat, but the food is delicious. Reasonably priced for large portions (large for tapas, that is), and really tasty, we enjoyed every visit here. The patatas bravas are just about the most garlicky thing I could ever imagine – but still so tasty – and the chicken fingers and the Spanish omelette are also delicious.

We also loved La Taverna del Born, which we only found on our last day but enjoyed pretty much the best meal of our trip. Sit outside on the terrace if you can (there’s an extra 15% service charge for the terrace but it’s worth it for the buzz on the streets outside) and if the boneless chicken wings are on the menu, for the love of God order them. Without a doubt the best chicken anything I have ever had, I could have eaten piles and piles of them. Absolutely delicious, great service and a very tempting menu that I could have happily worked my way through if we didn’t have a flight to catch…

Drinks

The Alsur Cafe was all of about a thirty-second walk from our apartment, so once we’d spotted it, it became our go-to for a tasty brunch, a quick snack, an evening drink or a mojito to pass the time. We really liked this place; inside is like a cosy coffee shop, and outside is a pretty terrace with fairy lights. The food is basic but super tasty – think avocado on toast, or a grilled cheese sandwich made with waffles instead of bread. Simple and delicious! They also made the best mojitos I have ever had here, and they were just €3 each!

La Bona Sort was a much dressier affair; this is a really cool cocktail bar and restaurant further into Born, with the most stylish hipster deco and an extensive cocktail menu. It wasn’t the cheapest, but the service was great and the margaritas were fabulous – what’s not to love?!

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Treats

Yes, there’s cocktails and tapas to be had, but Spain also does the most delicious desserts and sweet treats. My particular favourite is churros – I’m still thinking about them daily. We tried several places for churros during our stay and I have the two best lined up for you. For traditional churros and chocolate, Petritxol Xocoa  was dreamy. This is a properly indulgent chocolate shop, filled with the most incredible looking chocolate cakes and treats, and they are famous for their churros y chocolate. Expect sugary sweet churros and the most decadent dipping sauce, you can really take your time over this. Delicious!

For something a little different – and my absolute favourite – there’s a tiny churreia stand at La Sagrada Familia, just a little way away from the Gaudi cathedral. It’s on the corner of the street opposite a park and is admittedly pretty tricky to spot, but it’s worth the hunt. Here you’ll find gigantic churros for around €2, stuffed with a variety of wicked fillings; I chose dulce de leche and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It was just the most gorgeous thing. So satisfying, so delicious, so dark and rich and luxurious – I would go back to Barcelona for that churro alone.

Ice-cream is of course a must-have on a summer holiday, and while we sampled many places during our trip, the best was Gocce di Latte. There was a huge variety of flavours and each one was rich and sumptuous, beautifully made and incredibly tasty. It wasn’t the cheapest at around €5 for a tub (three scoops) but worth the price for a tasty treat.

La Colmena Patisseria was a great little spot too; the windows are piled high with cakes, meringues, muffins, macarons and other amazing little bits, and once inside, you won’t be able to resist trying something. I chose a chocolate orange muffin, complete with preserved orange cubes and a sticky, tangy orange sauce, while Lewis had what he thought was a huge meringue, which turned out to be a huge meringue on a huge cupcake. Win win.

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Shopping

Shopping wasn’t high on our agenda, but we couldn’t resist a trip into the city centre to explore. La Rambla is the Oxford Street and Bond Street of Barcelona, rolled into one. Expect everything from Zara and Mango (Spanish staples!) to Chanel, Saint Laurent and Gucci – heart-eyes everywhere! This is just the biggest street so wear comfy shoes if you’re planning on taking a day trip, or you could always just buy some…

El Corte Ingles is Spain’s version of John Lewis, and while it’s not amazing, it’s definitely worth a look around! It’s also got a Sephora housed inside – although I counted at least three standalone Sephora stores so you can fill your boots!

Ale Hop was a great fun find – it was kind of like Tiger, but definitely more feminine and less homey. I found great cheap flip-flops, plenty of amazing novelty inflatables for the pool and loads of pretty stationery here; again there seems to be loads about, so if you spot one it’s worth a stop!

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Things to Do

There is plenty to do in Barcelona, but it gets so hot that you might not want to do very much! On days like that, the beach is always a great idea, but head down to the far end of the beach – it’s about a ten-twenty minute walk further along the coast than the main beach, depending on how far you want to go – but it’s totally worth it. The main beach is rammed with children and tourists, so if you want a quieter, more chilled atmosphere, definitely keep walking!

If you take a trip up to the museum of Catalan art, make sure to set time aside to explore the area behind the museum. There are lots of beautiful gardens to walk around, with amazing views over the city. A wander around here will also take you to the Olympic stadium, which is open to take a look at and is pretty interesting. The gardens were pretty much empty when we explored so it’s a really peaceful way to escape the crowds and enjoy a chilled afternoon.

Exploring Born is a great way to pass the time too; there’s markets, galleries and so many winding, twisting streets to discover. And then you can take a walk into the Gothic Quarter, which is totally worth getting to know. There are dozens of beautiful cathedrals and churches, interesting and quirky shops and plenty of places to stop off for refreshments on the way!

Tips

There’s not too much need to take the subway, as you can walk to most places – but if you do, buy the ten-journey subway ticket for €10. Multiple people can use the ticket, and it can be used over multiple days, so two of you can take five trips over the course of the week for just €5 each. Definitely worth having in case you decide to stay out late!

Another subway tip: if you are going to the beach, stay on past Barceloneta and get off at the next stop, Ciutadella Vila Olimpica. It’ll take you much closer to the nice end of the beach!

And if you do go to the beach, take something comfy to sit on – sunloungers are €28 to hire!

Make the most of a siesta – Barcelona gets HOT!

If you need to take a taxi, look up the Barcelona Women’s Taxi Association – friendly female drivers in nice cars at good prices, so you can feel safe and get to your destination easily.

And remember – pasalo bien!

Brighton In Photos

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Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Is there anything better than an impromptu weekend away?

If there is, then we need to be introduced.

A couple of weeks ago now, Lewis and I decided to take the time we’d booked off for his birthday and put it to excellent use, with a two-day getaway to the seaside. I’ve been hinting at another trip to Brighton basically since we got back from our last day-trip there and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

Thanks to a voucher Lewis’ dad bought us for Christmas, we were able to book a two-night stay at the beautiful Drake’s hotel, widely renowned as one of the best hotels in Brighton. It certainly lived up to our expectations! Small but perfectly formed, our room had a beautiful view right out on to the seafront and the pier, and an indulgent deep bath facing the window to enjoy the seascape too. It’s not cheap at around £150 a night for our room, so it’s thanks to the voucher that we were able to afford it! It felt like a very indulgent treat and we really enjoyed our stay. The restaurant was sadly closed when we visited but rumour has it that it’s also one of the best restaurants in the city too.

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We kicked off Lewis’ birthday celebrations on our first morning with a trip to The Breakfast Club, one of our favourite brunch destinations. I started the day with my favourite, a stack of pancakes with berries and vanilla cream, and Lewis had eggs Benedict.

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We spent the morning and early afternoon wandering the Lanes and exploring by the seafront, wandering along the pebbled beach and stopping for lots of snaps! I also made a pit stop at Lush – got to make the most of that bath. FYI; the Rose Jam Bubbleroon is HEAVEN.

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Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Lunch was a trip to Bagelman – the chicken, bacon and avocado bagel was so good, almost worth the trip back alone!

For the birthday dinner, we deliberated on a few options but eventually decided on the Cote Brasserie for some delicious French food. It was so good! I had garlic king prawns, the most delicious steak frites and a chocolate mousse, so good and not too pricey either. It was very busy for a Thursday night but not so much that it felt overcrowded – the ideal balance.

We finished off the evening at the renowned Bohemia jazz bar, which was so much fun. They had a great jazz singer on and the atmosphere was very cool. They have an extensive cocktail list of weird and wonderful creations too; Lewis had a twist on a White Russian that came with popcorn, toasted marshmallows and campfire smoke, but I chose a truly disgusting strawberry cocktail that turned out to have some kind of mushy pea puree in it. The cocktails here were very expensive too, so it was a costly mistake – my advice, choose with care! Also, the jazz bar is nowhere near where the website and Google maps tells you it is. I know.

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

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Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Our last morning dawned and we checked out of our hotel (I was so sad, I did not want to wave goodbye to that bath!) and headed to the Lanes in search of a breakfast to rival the one of the day before.

We headed to Cafe Coho on Ship Street to load up before our journey back, on the recommendation of Hello October. It’s a great place for brunch; the decor is a little too stripped-back for my taste so it was pretty chilly and very noisy, but the food was delicious so we didn’t mind too much. We both ordered the fry-up – possibly the most middle-class fry-up ever, it was great. Delicious bacon and sausages, perfect scrambled eggs, thyme-roasted tomatoes and sourdough toast, SO GOOD.

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

One final walk around the Pavilion and gardens, and a stroll back along the seafront, and it was time to go home.

Frocks and flowers frocks & flowers uk lifestyle blog weekend in brighton long weekend trip drakes hotel review travel recommendations for brighton pavilion the breakfast club bagleman things to do in brighton where to eat in brighton

Travel Guide: Amsterdam

So, as you might have seen in one of my last posts, Lewis and I recently spent a few days in glorious Amsterdam. We decided not to bother with anything too touristy, instead preferring to wander the streets and live like a local for the time that we were there. We ate a lot, we drank a lot and we bought a lot in some beautiful shops, so I’ve put together a little guide of our favourite places from our new favourite city. Enjoy!

Food

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Cafe George

Cafe George
On the morning of my birthday, we skipped the hotel’s breakfast offering and headed out into the city to see what we could find. We stumbled across the canal-side Cafe George; a deliciously stylish-looking bistro tucked away from the main street, with plentiful tables outside and the most gorgeous branding (I’m a sucker for good typography). Luckily, it lived well up to expectations; I ordered scrambled eggs with bacon and a pot of breakfast tea (so English) and received an absolute mountain of food, and it was so yummy! Lewis ordered Eggs Benedict and he was equally impressed – as were the crowds of locals who ended up sat beside us when they spied our plates…

Leidsegracht 84, 1016 CR Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide C'est Magnifique Waffles

C’est Magnifique Croissanterie
No trip to the Netherlands would be complete without some traditional waffles, and we really did indulge here… on our first afternoon, we couldn’t resist a stop by this bakery to sample some caramel-covered waffles. It was one of the more affordable, less tacky waffle houses that we found, and so delicious!

Leidsestraat 18, 1052 XH Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Metropolitan Waffles

Metropolitan
More waffles! As I said, it’s impossible to resist – and this place does them with salted caramel, it’s a no brainer. Incredibly rich and sticky, we found sharing one of these bad boys was more than enough. Wowser.

Warmoesstraat 135, 1012 JB Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Cafe P96

Cafe P96
We stopped here for lunch on our last afternoon, whilst wandering around the picturesque Jordaan area. The restaurant terrace atop a canal boat outside made us stop initially, but the food was amazing. It’s a really tiny bar/restaurant inside, playing the best music throughout our time there (almost all Rolling Stones, perfection!), but the boat terrace is the real attraction. We found a table right beside the canal and tucked into a seriously delicious lunch. I ordered the salad and didn’t expect much; I certainly didn’t expect a bowl piled high with prosciutto, olives, rocket, cucumber, sundried tomatoes, courgettes and much more, drizzled with a heavenly balsamic honey dressing. You can sit beside the water as long as you like, taking in the views and watching everyone on the canal work really hard pedalling or rowing by, whilst you sit in the sun and eat an amazing lunch. A real little gem of a find!

Prinsengracht 96-98, 1015 DZ Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide ZaZa's Restaurant

Za Za’s
Typically, we didn’t pre-book anything for my birthday meal; cue scrambling around that afternoon with the hotel wifi, trying to find somewhere we liked the look of for a special dinner. Two hours later, Lewis stumbled across Za Za’s, and the menu sounded amazing. They only had one table left (always a good sign) and we snapped it up. I am so glad we did! The staff knew it was my birthday, so we had balloons tied to the chairs, as well as a complimentary palate cleanser (I believe it was some kind of five-spice carrot mousse tart?) that was yummy. The restaurant was full to the brim without feeling overstuffed, but the staff were still so attentive.

We ordered scallops to start, served on a fennel filo tart with tarragon butter, followed by the palate cleanser. Lewis chose the cod for his main, whilst I went for the most tender, delicious rib-eye steak, with fries and a red wine jus. Absolutely amazing, I don’t have words for it. SO GOOD. To finish, Lewis had lemmon meringue pie while I went for a flourless chocolate cake with a pistachio gelato; cue it arriving with a sparkler cannon and a birthday serenade! Cringe but so cute. The staff took polaroids of everybody at their table too, for the perfect memento. I would absolutely visit Za Za’s again next time we go to Amsterdam – it was a fabulous experience from start to finish (lucky, given that it’s vaguely Ab Fab themed!)

Daniël Stalpertstraat 103, 1072 XD Amsterdam


Stay
Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Hotel CarltonHotel Carlton
We stayed at the Hotel Carlton, located just by Rembrandtplein and the famous Amsterdam flower market. We didn’t really know what to expect, as we booked it cheaply a few weeks before we went, but we were pleasantly surprised. We had a large suite, with a balcony overlooking the city, a huge (and very comfy!) bed and an elegant bathroom with my favourite his-and-hers sinks. The breakfast there was delicious, and we couldn’t fault the location. An easy option for an affordable stay without feeling like you’ve gone too “budget”!

Vijzelstraat 4, 1017 HK Amsterdam

Shopping

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Shopping Dille and Kamille

Dille and Kamille
Amsterdam has the best homeware shops! Perfect traps for new homeowners and interior obsessives like us… We found Dille and Kamille whilst exploring the Jordaan area, and agreed that this could be the best homeware shop we’d ever been in. It was kind of like IKEA, but just for bits and pieces – and so much cooler! It had everything from crockery to cutlery to toys, candles, cookbooks and gifts, and I was mesmerised. I left with a gorgeous grey candle for our bedroom – the only thing I could fit in my suitcase! I have already resolved to come back here with an empty suitcase to make sure I can bring back everything I loved in the shop, I could furnish the whole flat from here! Plus, my candle was beautifully wrapped – it felt like a present to myself, what more could you want?

Nieuwendijk 16, 1012 MK Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Shopping Invotis

Invotis
We found this little boutique post-waffles, on one of Amsterdam’s main shopping streets. We were drawn in by the quirky window display (to say the least!) and found so many cool bits inside. Again, there was so much we could have bought, from gifts and gadgets to oils and kitchen bits, but we ended up leaving just with the coolest travel cup I’ve ever seen. No more crappy paper Costa cups for us…!

Leidsestraat 12, 1017 PA Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Shopping Vintage Kilo Shop

Kiloshop
I can honestly say that Amsterdam has the best vintage stores I’ve ever shopped in! After scouring stores in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Brighton and Paris, I’ve never found any that are full of such well-preserved items. Pieces that look like they’ve just rolled out of Topshop! My favourite was the Kiloshop in the very trendy De Pijp neighbourhood; I spied this while we were dining in Za Za’s and resolved to come back the next day as it looked too good to miss out on. I was right! This vintage store is also a very chic coffee shop, serving seriously good coffee by the way, and is stocked to the rafters with the most amazing 60s and 70s pieces. There was the option to buy by the kilo (where’s that suitcase when you need it?) or to buy by weight of individual items, which is what I did. I found a super cute red gingham blouse for serious Bardot vibes, and the perfect Breton top. The hunt is over! There was everything from sunglasses to scarves and bags, as well as some incredible 80s prom dresses – a perfect way to escape for a couple of hours and find some real treasures too!

Waterlooplein 189, 1011 PG Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Amsterdam Guide Shopping circle of trust concept store

Circle of Trust Concept Store
This might just be the most beautiful shop I have ever set foot in. Everything about it was gorgeous – serious interior inspo alert! I’m basically recommending this store because of this. The clothes were also gorgeous, made even better by hanging on copper hangers (the dream!) but the displays and the accessories – oh my. Pineapple candles, metallics, feathers, coffee table books, lights… it was a hipster home dream, Pinterest come alive. HEAVENLY.

Ferdinand Bolstraat 47, 1072LB Amsterdam

Two Days in Amsterdam

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

As you might have spotted on my Twitter or Instagram, we spent a few days last week over in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, to celebrate my 24th birthday. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as the most you ever hear about Amsterdam is bikes, coffee shops and the infamous Red Light District – but it was so, so much more than that! We booked the trip on a whim about three weeks before we left; I was worried I’d have nothing exciting to do on my birthday and so we looked at European city breaks for a cheap getaway – and Amsterdam was a bargain!

We flew out of Gatwick on Tuesday evening after work, and a mere forty-minute flight later landed at Schipol airport. The airport led straight into a main train station, and after we purchased a three-day travel pass (€25), we headed off on the train to Amsterdam Centraal station. Once we got there, it was another hop onto a tram to take us to our hotel, the four-star Hotel Carlton, situated beside the famous flower market at Rembrandtplein. We were given a top-floor apartment with a balcony(!) so we spent the first ten minutes just taking in the view across the city. The hotel was much more central than we’d imagined – pretty much the perfect location. After we had familiarised ourselves with the hotel, we went for a stroll to take in our surroundings, along the canals and down some pretty little side streets, before tasting some cocktails in a nearby bar and heading off to bed.

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

The next day was my birthday, and with nothing planned, we decided to wander and see where we’d end up. We missed the hotel breakfast thanks to a luxurious lie-in and card/present-opening, so we went on the hunt for brunch, via the flower market, and wound up finding a seriously stylish little bistro, Cafe George. I’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post but oh my, the food was delicious!

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

After that, we spent the afternoon wandering and exploring as much as we could find; visiting the cutest little shops in the famous Nine Streets area, treasure hunting in the best vintage stores, and picking up some waffles along the way (oh god, the waffles!). I was just amazed at how beautiful the whole city was; the gorgeous houses lining the canals were just dreamy – I could totally see myself living there. And the canals were everywhere, broken up by pretty little bridges smothered in the most colourful flowers. And the bikes – EVERYWHERE. I am now so seduced by bikes that come payday, I am resolving to spruce up my little Raleigh so I can pedal about all over the place too. The city reminded me of the west end of Glasgow – like I needed another reason to feel homesick.

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City BreakFrocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

We walked around some very picturesque parks and took in all of the incredible views along the canals, before retiring to the hotel for a break (read: a two-hour catnap for me, and two hours researching restaurants for Lewis). We eventually found the perfect restaurant, Za Za’s, for my birthday dinner, and headed out for some pre-dinner cocktails. Again, I’ll talk more about dinner in another post, but it was a gorgeous restaurant and the perfect way to celebrate! The restaurant knew it was my birthday and couldn’t have been more accommodating – this place is highly recommended! Here’s a little snap they took of us at the table whilst singing ‘Happy Birthday’ – cringe but so cute.

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

Thursday morning dawned, and we actually made it up and out in time for breakfast at the hotel. It was a great spread – everything you could want, from pastries, cakes and doughnuts to toast, eggs and bacon, and of course, that great Dutch staples: caramel waffles. Breakfast heaven. We checked out of the hotel and left our luggage behind, to enjoy our final day of sightseeing.

Again, with nothing planned, we just decided to wander and see what we could find. We were quite adamant that we wanted to avoid the touristy stuff – queueing for hours in the summer is just no fun, and I prefer to really live like a local when I visit new cities, and really integrate into the culture. So I can’t provide you with any recommendations on the museums or attractions, but I’d advise against visiting in midsummer – the queue for the Anne Frank House was two hours long!

We started out by walking to De Pijp, a famously trendy area, where we’d dined the night before. I liked the look of the bars and shops so it seemed like a great place to start. I went digging in an incredible vintage store and found a couple of treasures to take home with me; the vintage stores in Amsterdam are some of the best I’ve ever visited! And there were so many beautiful shops and cafes, as well as an enormous street market.

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

We decided to explore the famous Jordaan area, which was absolutely stunning and so us; it was filled with a whole heap more of quirky, stylish boutiques and shops, and so many restaurants and cafes. We kept taking coffee breaks as the weather was so hot (someone might have burned their shoulders…) and found a gorgeous cafe aboard a canal boat to take lunch on, where we could watch everyone else sailing up and down the water beside us. It looked like fun – but a little too much like hard work! I preferred being an onlooker, with a delicious salad and a glass of wine in hand. Much better!

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

Amsterdam was just filled with so many incredible shops; we found so many things that we wanted to take home with us (damn hand luggage allowance…) but I’ll share some of my favourites in an upcoming post. If you’re into your interiors, it’s the place to shop! We did pick up a few cute little bits where we could find space for them in our suitcases, and I picked up a whole lot of interior inspiration for the flat too..

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break Once we were done with the shops and our legs could take no more, it was time to jump into a taxi and head back to the airport for our flight home. So long Amsterdam – I’ll definitely be back soon!

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

Frocks and Flowers UK Life and Style Blog Two Days in Amsterdam City Break

Four Days in Athens – Days Three and Four

Day three in Athens was definitely my favourite day. This is, in my opinion, the one day that you absolutely need if you ever visit Athens. It was nothing short of incredible!

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We started the day with a visit to an ancient Greek agora – basically, the ruins of an ancient city centre. Based in lush green gardens, filled with winding paths and towering trees, and littered with the most wonderful statues and plaques everywhere; it was exactly how i’d imagined ancient Athens to be. The stuff they leave lying around here is nothing short of unbelievable! Everywhere you look, there’s the remnants of what once were imposing statues, some much larger than lifesize, and plaques commemorating individuals of long, long ago, and pieces of columns and decorations that once ornamented the dozens of buildings that used to be there.

Agora Museum Athens Frocks and Flowers

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Temple of Hephaestus Athens Frocks and Flowers

We visited the museum inside the agora, which was filled with some of the best statues I saw the entire trip. Everywhere were figures of Aphrodite, Athena and Eros, my personal favourites. I couldn’t stop snapping away! When I finally managed to tear myself away, we decided to take a quick selfie at the balcony overlooking the rest of the gardens – it was only then that we noticed the absolutely enormous ruin of a temple right behind us! Almost entirely invisible from ground level, the temple was nothing but incredible. We found out it was the Temple of Hephaestus, and is one of the best-preserved ancient temple ruins around. Even the roof is still intact! It was being explored by archaeologists when we got closer, but we still managed to get a good look around.

Once we were sure we’d seen everything the agora had to offer, the real excitement began; we began walking up the winding hill towards the Acropolis. Looming over the city and visible from almost everywhere, I’d been excited for months (probably years, actually) about visiting it, and I couldn’t quite believe it as we climbed ever closer.

Acropolis View Frocks and Flowers

Acropolis Stadium Frocks and Flowers

The hill was exciting in itself; at every turn there was something new to look at, including the ruins of an ancient stadium (above), and the most wonderful panoramic view across the city. And then we got to the top and I don’t have words.

Acropolis Frocks and Flowers

Parthenon Frocks and Flowers

Caryatids Frocks and Flowers

Caryatids Frocks and Flowers

Even though the temples are all ruins, and the remaining statues are replicas, it was magnificent. A proper, once-in-a-lifetime, pinch-me experience. We took hundreds of photos to make sure we could savour every second of our time up there, to make sure we caught every tiny detail. It was amazing to see these ruins and imagine what they must have been like in their glory days, free of the scaffolding that covered large sections of them. Even the way back down was astounding, with the hill littered with statues and plaques and a second stadium, this one with statues and friezes still in place. If you ever do one thing in Greece, make it this. This is such a short paragraph to describe something so monumental, but that’s literally because it was indescribable.

To be honest, the rest of the third day faded into oblivion after this, (how could anything compare?!) so we’ll skip into day four, our final day in Athens. There was only one more thing we wanted to see; the National Archaeological Museum. This place was fascinating; it’s packed (and I mean packed) with the statues and relics that you’ve only ever seen in history books. Incredible pieces like the infamous bronze statue of Zeus – found in a shipwreck by the way, what the hell?! – and the most gorgeous marble statues of all of the gods and goddesses. I particularly loved this one, which was a miniature replica of the giant statue of Athena which once adorned the Acropolis, standing 12 meters high and towering above the skyline. It was just as good as the British Museum, if not better – after all, what could be better than seeing these masterpieces in the city that they were made to adorn?

Zeus Statue Frocks and Flowers

Athena Frocks and Flowers

So, with aching feet and happy hearts, it was time to wave goodbye to a city that truly gripped us. We’ve already made a pact to return in a few years (more like 20 or so) to see the Acropolis again, hopefully without its scaffolding and restored back to some of its former glory. Although our taxi driver informed us that the scaffolding has been there since the 1970s, so it might take a wee bit longer than 2034….

It might not be the most glamorous city, or the slickest, or the prettiest – but Athens was definitely had the most captivating places I’ve ever been lucky enough to visit.